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  #1  
Old 05-13-2013, 01:25 PM
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Cracked on UK and US forces at Normandy


Today's Cracked Photoplasty is "Shocking facts that will change how you picture history. This here slide makes the point "1944, Normandy. The British second army: 83,115 Men. The US First Army: Approx. 73,000 Men".

What am I supposed to be shocked at?
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:31 PM
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I had always thought the invasion force was huge. 250,000 at least. There were multiple beachheads Utah, Sword, Omaha, Gold and Juno.

Cracked left out the Canadians. They had a large force too mostly on Juno

Last edited by aceplace57; 05-13-2013 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:34 PM
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Cracked left out the Canadians. They had a large force too.
Yes, 25K or so of us Canucks. I guess I'm not shocked because those are about the numbers I was expecting.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:40 PM
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That they can account for the exact number of Brits but can only estimate the American to the nearest thousand?

That's all I can come up with...
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:44 PM
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I dunno. Maybe most of us Yanks think D-Day was, primarily, an American invasion? We did take the brunt of the causalities and most film I've seen shows Americans.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:44 PM
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Because a lot of Americans think that we won World War II all by ourselves with John Wayne up there on the front line.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:48 PM
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That list is really terrible. One bit has a note that the Roman empire wasn't that large compared to other, larger empires, and includes Ireland, which was never, ever under Roman control, either de facto or de jure. Other dubious claims start with phrases like "It has been calculated" and "It has been claimed." That's lousy even for Cracked.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:48 PM
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Because a lot of Americans think that we won World War II all by ourselves with John Wayne up there on the front line.
Ah! Just in the spirit of overcoming ignorance, then, I'll point out that that John Wayne actually fought in the Pacific, and

SPOILER:
. . . he died!


  #9  
Old 05-13-2013, 01:49 PM
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I think you are supposed to be shocked that the British landed more total troops than the Americans did on D-Day. The typical narrative is that it was overwhelming American numbers and firepower that carried the day.
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:54 PM
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Good summary of the beaches and forces involved.
http://www.tripline.net/trip/Map_of_...49BAE5A339E6F8
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Old 05-13-2013, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I had always thought the invasion force was huge. 250,000 at least. There were multiple beachheads Utah, Sword, Omaha, Gold and Juno.

Cracked left out the Canadians. They had a large force too mostly on Juno
According to Wiki, the Canadian (also relatively small numbers of French) soldiers were wrapped into the British total. When they were subtracted out, about 62,000 soldiers of the force were, um, ... British British.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:01 PM
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The Canadian troops were part of the British 2nd army. There were about 10,000 more Americans troops than troops from the UK, but thestrength of the UK and Canadian contingent was greater than the American contingent by about 10,000 troops.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:05 PM
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The Nazi numbers are a lot more surprising then the Allied ones. Only 10,000 vs 150,000 for the Allies.

Also I think movies give a somewhat skewed vision of D-Day by focusing on Omaha beach where casulties were really high. I remember looking up casualties for all the landings and being surprised by how low they were.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:28 PM
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The Nazi numbers are a lot more surprising then the Allied ones. Only 10,000 vs 150,000 for the Allies.
The Germans were enormously well dug in along the coastline, multiplying their force against the undefended invaders.

Fortunately, the Sardinia deception and the massive Russian efforts in the weeks before (just discussed in another thread) kept them from reinforcing the Normandy line before we dug in ourselves. Besides minimizing the Allied help with the invasion, this is one case where the Russian contribution has all but been forgotten in US histories.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:36 PM
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I can tell you what I'm shocked at...

The fact that you're relying on Cracked for factual information.
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Last edited by JBDivmstr; 05-13-2013 at 02:38 PM. Reason: forgot to add quote- see next post
  #16  
Old 05-13-2013, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by D18 View Post
Today's Cracked Photoplasty is "Shocking facts that will change how you picture history. This here slide makes the point "1944, Normandy. The British second army: 83,115 Men. The US First Army: Approx. 73,000 Men".

What am I supposed to be shocked at?
I can tell you what I'm shocked at...

The fact that you're relying on Cracked for factual information.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:57 PM
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Because a lot of Americans think that we won World War II all by ourselves with John Wayne up there on the front line.
This.

Americans also tend to completely ignore that whole other front that was over there. They know the Soviets were involved and did some fighting and stuff but are pretty sure that in the grand scheme of things it didn't amount to much. The reality is that the U.S. suffered about half a million deaths in WWII. The Soviets, by comparison, suffered somewhere between 9 and 15 million deaths (depending on whose statistics you go by). So while we think John Wayne and Hurrah! and we did everything important, the Soviets are more like it was our war and you stupid Americans just came in for a tiny bit at the end and didn't really contribute much. While both the typical American view and the typical Soviet view are both a bit biased and skewed due to patriotism, I think it's safe to say that the Soviet version is probably closer to the truth.
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:04 PM
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^Yes, I recall one of the dopers in another thread calling WWII a war between Germany and the USSR, with a side skirmish in Western Europe.

And JBD? I heard you the first time!
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:11 PM
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It is far better to state that this was a massively cooperative affair, the war may well not have been won without any one of the major allies.

US casualties through the whole of this war were less than UK (including colonies), but these are dwarfed in sheer numbers by those of the Chinese and Russians (partly also depends when you decide WWII actually started)

In terms of percentage of populations killed then its likely to be Poland or perhaps one of the Balkan states where the death toll was horrific.
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:32 PM
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According to Wiki, the Canadian (also relatively small numbers of French) soldiers were wrapped into the British total. When they were subtracted out, about 62,000 soldiers of the force were, um, ... British British.
Gregory House, MD: Sorry, you put the queen on your money, you're British.
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:34 PM
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What a slide show of nonsense. The very next slide on is complaining about spelling on the Constitution. Sorry kiddies, but standardized spelling is a modern concept. Pennsylvania is spelled the same way on the Liberty Bell.

I hate smug amateur historians who have no sense of context.
  #22  
Old 05-13-2013, 03:50 PM
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Gregory House, MD: Sorry, you put the queen on your money, you're British.
Well sure. British, but not British British.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:02 PM
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The reality is that the U.S. suffered about half a million deaths in WWII. The Soviets, by comparison, suffered somewhere between 9 and 15 million deaths (depending on whose statistics you go by)
But a lot of those Soviet losses were civilian and POW massacres by the Germans, who treated Soviet citizens as subhuman trash. Plus a lot of Soviet military losses were due to Soviet military tactics that treated soldier losses as almost irrelevant in the path to overall gains, incredibly poor Soviet military medicine, and the incredibly poor planning of Stalin before the war. The Soviets clearly tied down more German divisions than the Americans and British, but let's not think their impact was 20 times bigger than the Western Allies.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:03 PM
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This.

Americans also tend to completely ignore that whole other front that was over there. They know the Soviets were involved and did some fighting and stuff but are pretty sure that in the grand scheme of things it didn't amount to much. The reality is that the U.S. suffered about half a million deaths in WWII. The Soviets, by comparison, suffered somewhere between 9 and 15 million deaths (depending on whose statistics you go by). So while we think John Wayne and Hurrah! and we did everything important, the Soviets are more like it was our war and you stupid Americans just came in for a tiny bit at the end and didn't really contribute much. While both the typical American view and the typical Soviet view are both a bit biased and skewed due to patriotism, I think it's safe to say that the Soviet version is probably closer to the truth.
It's also perfectly natural to have such beliefs and it's hardly unique.

Compare British and Germany history books accounts of Waterloo.

Hell, I can't think of any of the Vietnam War movies other than, ironically enough, The Green Berets, which even acknowledged the existence of the ARVN(the South Vietnamese Army) even though the ARVN suffered nearly five times as many deaths as the US military.

Anyway, it's also worth keeping in mind that the US took the brunt of the casualties on D-Day.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:10 PM
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Bigger casualties doesn't necessarily mean you're fighting harder. It can also mean you're not fighting as well.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:34 PM
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Bigger casualties doesn't necessarily mean you're fighting harder. It can also mean you're not fighting as well.
This. If we started measuring wars by casualties incurred, war would be even uglier than it is now.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:36 PM
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It's not much of a point, as the campaign wore on the proportion of Allied forces that were American continued to grow as formations arrived from stateside. Conversely, before the Normandy campaign was over the British were forced to disband two infantry divisions (50th and 59th) to provide infantry replacements to keep the rest of the divisions in the field. Overall casualty figures for the Western Front were:
Quote:
American: 109,820 killed or missing, 356,660 wounded, and 56,630 captured; British: 30,280 killed or missing, 96,670 wounded, 14,700 captured; Canadian: 10,740 killed or missing, 30,910 wounded, 2,250 captured; French: 12,590 killed or missing, 49,510 wounded, 4,730 captured; Pole: 1,160 killed or missing, 3,840 wounded, 370 captured.
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Also I think movies give a somewhat skewed vision of D-Day by focusing on Omaha beach where casulties were really high. I remember looking up casualties for all the landings and being surprised by how low they were.
Indeed, far more casualties were suffered at Slapton Sands when German E-boats got amongst a training exercise for Utah beach than were suffered in the actual landing at Utah.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:15 PM
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That list is really terrible. One bit has a note that the Roman empire wasn't that large compared to other, larger empires, and includes Ireland, which was never, ever under Roman control, either de facto or de jure. Other dubious claims start with phrases like "It has been calculated" and "It has been claimed." That's lousy even for Cracked.
Keep in mind that those Photoplasty images are submitted by readers, not made up by the Cracked staff. The reader who submitted that particular entry most likely did not draw the map himself, he probably found it online and added the text to it. The Photoplasty feature is, after all, basically a Photoshopping contest.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:21 PM
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That one German corporal killed as many as 1,500 Americans at Omaha with his mg-42, accounting for most killed at Omaha, or Normandy for that matter.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by JBDivmstr View Post
I can tell you what I'm shocked at...

The fact that you're relying on Cracked for factual information.
Cracked articles have their highs and lows, and some of the lows are pretty damned low, but the better ones are fairly good and they usually cite sources. On average, they're not much worse than most SDMB posts, once you learn to subtract out what they put in simply for comedy.

Note, too, that Cracked articles have multiple authors, some of whom are regulars and some of whom only do one or two, and some authors are more interested in facts than others. And, of course, if you only read parts of the lists, you might only get the part where they set up the myth they spend the rest of the list entry tearing down; I've seen that happen on the SDMB, in fact.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:25 PM
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Well, in this case, the slide in question came from a user-submitted list. But the quality variance still applies (although some include their cites so you can see for themselves).
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:39 PM
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Don't forget the 3,000 Aussies, sorry we couldn't send anymore we were a bit busy with Japanese at the time ;-)
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:49 PM
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Slightly off-topic, I heartily recommend Keegan's "Six Armies in Normandy", which looks at the campaign through the perspective of each of the five Allied armies (British, Canadian, American, French and Polish), plus the Germans.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:04 PM
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The best way I've had WWII explained on college was simple: Americans paid in cash, Brits paid in time, and the Soviets paid in blood.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by D18 View Post
Today's Cracked Photoplasty is "Shocking facts that will change how you picture history. This here slide makes the point "1944, Normandy. The British second army: 83,115 Men. The US First Army: Approx. 73,000 Men".

What am I supposed to be shocked at?
I'm shocked at the transport of what seems to be a child's bike.
  #36  
Old 05-13-2013, 11:05 PM
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Bigger casualties doesn't necessarily mean you're fighting harder. It can also mean you're not fighting as well.
It can also mean you drew Omaha.
  #37  
Old 05-14-2013, 01:02 AM
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While both the typical American view and the typical Soviet view are both a bit biased and skewed due to patriotism, I think it's safe to say that the Soviet version is probably closer to the truth.
I was reading a 1945 issue of Yank magazine (produced by and for enlisted men in the US Armed Forces) and one of the writers basically said "yeah, the Soviets really did the heavy lifting in this war in terms of fighting and casualties."
  #38  
Old 05-14-2013, 02:29 AM
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Ah! Just in the spirit of overcoming ignorance, then, I'll point out that that John Wayne actually fought in the Pacific, and

SPOILER:
. . . he died!


SPOILER:
  #39  
Old 05-14-2013, 08:16 AM
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Fortunately, the Sardinia deception
Uh...if you're referring to Operation Mincemeat, the "Man Who never Was" deception faking an invasion plan for Sardinia (and Greece, by the way), that was to cover the invasion of Sicily (and subsequently Italy itself), not France.

Operation Fortitude was the large-scale deception plan supporting Overlord, the invasion of France. Although it had many elements, the one that probably was the most important was Fortitude South, the fake invasion of the Pas de Calais, by Patton's fake First US Army Group. German attention remained fixed on the Pas de Calais long after Overlord was ashore. As far as I know, Sardinia had nothing to do with Fortitude or Overlord.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
and the massive Russian efforts in the weeks before (just discussed in another thread) kept them from reinforcing the Normandy line before we dug in ourselves. Besides minimizing the Allied help with the invasion, this is one case where the Russian contribution has all but been forgotten in US histories.
Sorry to pick another nit here...I am a firm believer in not minimizing the Soviet contribution to the war...but I don't know what you could be talking about here. I can't imagine how OB West (German command in France) would have changed its operational dispositions based on anything happening on the Eastern Front, particularly after the Allied landing. Rundstedt and Rommel had their hands full locally.

And if you're referring to Operation Bagration, the gigantic Soviet offensive that crushed Germany's Army Group Centre...well, while that did create an immediate crisis for the German army, it didn't start until June 22, sixteen days later.

What kept the Germans from reinforcing the Normandy front was, overwhelmingly, [Western] Allied airpower. American and British heavy bombers had concentrated on destroying rail transport and roadways throughout France in the weeks leading up to the invasion; and masses of fighter-bombers swept over the German rear areas, concentrating on preventing movement during daylight. Rommel, who had experienced Allied airpower in the desert, had predicted this, and asked to put all his mobile forces as far forward as possible; Rundtedt, unused to fighting without Luftwaffe superiority, wanted to hold the tanks well back and commit them to the point of invasion after landing. Hitler split the difference with an inadequate compromise. The result was, most German forces trying to move forward to the invasion point were interdicted and/or destroyed by roving fighter-bombers. One German commander talked about moving only a few miles and losing almost all his tanks in a single day due to constant aerial harassment.

Last edited by Sailboat; 05-14-2013 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:41 AM
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Also I think movies give a somewhat skewed vision of D-Day by focusing on Omaha beach where casulties were really high. I remember looking up casualties for all the landings and being surprised by how low they were.

I think this is the main thing; outside of Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the scattered paratrooper adventures, the actual landings on Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches were pretty lightly opposed.

On Omaha, things went sideways in a hurry and that's what got made into movies and what people think about when they think "D-Day".

Kind of like the way the movies would have someone believe that the war in the Pacific went like this: Pearl Harbor, Doolittle Raid, Midway, Guadalcanal.... then sometime in 1945, you'd have Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and then the atom bomb, with some submarines and PT Boats thrown in.

There's very little mention of Saipan, Peleliu, Tarawa, Cape Gloucester, Burma, the Phillipines, the Aleutians, Coral Sea, Truk, Leyte Gulf/Samar etc...

(I can't help but think that a Taffy 3 / Battle off Samar movie might be really interesting)
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:46 AM
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also relatively small numbers of French) .
*Extremely* small number of French. There was one bataillon of commandos, IIRC.

Last edited by clairobscur; 05-14-2013 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:50 AM
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*Extremely* small number of French. There was one bataillon of commandos, IIRC.
Still, the French force dwarfed the number of Australians who landed which, according to that same Wiki page, was 8.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:47 PM
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There's very little mention of Saipan, Peleliu, Tarawa, Cape Gloucester, Burma, the Phillipines, the Aleutians, Coral Sea, Truk, Leyte Gulf/Samar etc...
I know about Tarawa.

"Who led the bloody slaughter in Tarawa
In Tarawa, in Tarawa
Who led the bloody slaughter
While McArthur walked on water?
The United States Marines!"

(Oscar Brand, "The United States Marines")
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:30 PM
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The best way I've had WWII explained on college was simple: Americans paid in cash, Brits paid in time, and the Soviets paid in blood.
And Filipinos paid in Filipinas.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:04 PM
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What kept the Germans from reinforcing the Normandy front was, overwhelmingly, [Western] Allied airpower.
That, and Hitler's refusal to release the Panzer reserve until way too late - that too largely due to Fortitude.

I just had a thought. The Germans were by this time used to attacks from ridiculously huge numbers of Russians, dozens of divisions at a time. Perhaps they simply couldn't believe that all the Allies could manage on D-day were 5 land and 3 para divisions as their main effort? It had to be a diversion?
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:11 PM
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That, and Hitler's refusal to release the Panzer reserve until way too late - that too largely due to Fortitude.

I just had a thought. The Germans were by this time used to attacks from ridiculously huge numbers of Russians, dozens of divisions at a time. Perhaps they simply couldn't believe that all the Allies could manage on D-day were 5 land and 3 para divisions as their main effort? It had to be a diversion?
One thing I've gotten from my time on the Internet (and I mean no offense to Western Europeans by this) is that it seems that people from Western European countries don't really grasp how big the USA is (and, in the context of this discussion, how big the USSR was). Seriously, most Western European countries are similar in size to a single US state. I think Germany honestly didn't comprehend how many men the US and the USSR had to throw at them.

Last edited by Mister Rik; 05-14-2013 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:32 PM
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I know about Tarawa.

"Who led the bloody slaughter in Tarawa
In Tarawa, in Tarawa
Who led the bloody slaughter
While McArthur walked on water?
The United States Marines!"

(Oscar Brand, "The United States Marines")
Plenty of people know about Tarawa, but certainly not because of some 1950s era war movie with John Wayne, Gregory Peck or William Holden, like they do a lot of other WWII situations.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:35 AM
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One thing I've gotten from my time on the Internet (and I mean no offense to Western Europeans by this) is that it seems that people from Western European countries don't really grasp how big the USA is (and, in the context of this discussion, how big the USSR was). Seriously, most Western European countries are similar in size to a single US state. I think Germany honestly didn't comprehend how many men the US and the USSR had to throw at them.
What? Because they can't count population numbers?

And the size if a US state is meaningless if its just full of cows.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
One thing I've gotten from my time on the Internet (and I mean no offense to Western Europeans by this) is that it seems that people from Western European countries don't really grasp how big the USA is (and, in the context of this discussion, how big the USSR was). Seriously, most Western European countries are similar in size to a single US state.
Anecdotally, our German exchange student in the 1980s was amazed at how long we could drive and still be in the same state. He said, "in Europe we'd have gone through more than one country by now!" He was even further amazed that we could drive across a state border without some sort of checkpoint or any documentation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
What? Because they can't count population numbers?
I think his point is not that they can't count or estimate, but that they didn't fully internalize the knowledge, or were engaging in some denial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
And the size if a US state is meaningless if its just full of cows.
What if they're stampeding? Nazi Germany has no chance against a few million panicked Longhorns! Let the C-Day invasion begin!
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
One thing I've gotten from my time on the Internet (and I mean no offense to Western Europeans by this) is that it seems that people from Western European countries don't really grasp how big the USA is (and, in the context of this discussion, how big the USSR was). Seriously, most Western European countries are similar in size to a single US state. I think Germany honestly didn't comprehend how many men the US and the USSR had to throw at them.
This is silly. Hitler knew very well what US entry into the war in Europe could mean. What he underestimated was the number of Americans who were politically motivated to intervene.
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